Steven Belfrage caught up with Listing Ships, the opening act of Saturday’s ‘Home Taping is Killing Music’ gig at the White Swan in Aylesbury;
You played Truck Festival last month, how did that go?
Mike Bingham (MB) – I was completely relaxed beforehand and the rest of the band were pretty nervous but when we went on stage we flipped round and I was the jittery one. Once we’d got the first tune out of the way we hit our stride and for me it was the most energetic gig we’ve played so far. Had a great response from the crowd too which we fed off. I was buzzing till 3 in the morning.
Dave Balch (DB) – It was both fun and frustrating – fun because there was a good vibe and the crowd got into us, but frustrating because – as always – there were parts where my performance should’ve been a lot better.
Stuart Fowkes (SF) – Festivals are always fun, sometimes more so than regular shows. Bigger stages, crowds that are either drunker or more up for it (or both) and that sense of being part of something bigger. We had an absolute ball, which is just as well, as it came off the back of a very depressing, wet Tuesday-night-in-a-London-hellhole kind of a show the week before.
Do you prefer playing bigger gigs and festivals, or do you think a more intimate setting, such as the White Swan, is a better stage for your sound?
MB – If the PA sounds good (we’ve got a complicated sound with lots of subtle samples, effects and keyboard that often get lost) and the crowd are in to it then I don’t mind where we play.
DB – I think the thing that matters is there being people who are into the sound. Three people really into it would be better than one hundred who didn’t get it.
SF – I think Dave hits the spot there. It’s actually much better playing to a handful of people who are into what you’re doing than to play to a stadium full of Chili Peppers fans.
Listing Ships line-up boasts veterans of various Oxfordbands, including SubSiren favourites Sunnyvale Noise Sub-Element and From Light to Sound. MusicinOxford.co.uk mentioned in a review that the word ‘supergroup’ has already been unfairly used to describe you, feeling that such acts should prove themselves irrespective of their past. Is this a fair assessment?
SF – I have no idea where that came from. Someone used it in their review of our first show then other people picked up on it. It’s a hilarious concept – a couple of us were in bands that have sold a combined total of a few hundred CDs since 2003, and that apparently makes us a supergroup. Maybe we’ll sit alongside Zwan and Tinted Windows as the worst supergroup of all time.
MB – I’ve never seen this band as a supergroup and think the term is pretty hilarious – it makes us sound like Them Crooked Vultures or something. We’ve always set out to prove ourselves from scratch. My band Piexo played all of 2 gigs in Oxford and Jim’s never played live before this band so if anything we’re half a supergroup.
DB – I was quite amused by this, and saw it as a compliment, but to use “supergroup” we’d have to qualify it with “Oxford”, and if you have to qualify it it’s not really applicable.
Your debut release ‘Maiden Voyage’ is a jolly romp of cinematic rock with hints of jazz and erratic rhythms. How do you see your sound developing for your next release?
M.B.- The big difference with the new material is that we’ve had time to storm test the songs live first and tweak them as we go. We’re going in to the studio in September to record 3 tunes – expect to hear anything from calm melodic seascapes to violent fast punk tunes about Venice sinking.
DB – I think, and hope, that the songs we’ll be recording are a step up from our first recordings. As we’ve learnt what our sound is, the songs are more sophisticated, with with a more intense atmosphere.
SF – From the new EP, one of them’s really loud, one of them’s really fast, and one of them’s not in 4/4. And they’re all about ships and the sea.
Finally, what is it about the sea that fascinates you?
M.B. – Fear of the unknown. I love obscure maps from 500 years ago that depict giant monsters flying out of the Ocean. Explorers back then must have been terrified of what lied beneath.
DB – There’s an incredibly rich history and mythology to trawl for stories, and moods.
SF – It’s where the best stories come from. Gods, sea monsters, explorers, myths, lost cities, massive angry fish with huge teeth. Also I’m from landlockedLeicester, so it holds a special unattainable appeal for me.
Tomorrow we catch up with Space Heroes of the People….